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Judge tosses Wisconsin city's coronavirus restrictions as unconstitutional and overly broad

Judge tosses Wisconsin city's coronavirus restrictions as unconstitutional and overly broad
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A Racine, Wis., judge ruled Wednesday that the city’s coronavirus safety ordinance was too broad for citizens to understand and violated the state’s constitution, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Racine County Circuit Judge Jon Fredrickson wrote that the order was "likely the strictest, and most over-arching COVID-19 order or ordinance in the country," adding that "this court finds that no average person of ordinary intelligence can make sense of its sprawling breadth."

The city has appealed the decision, the latest of several against the city by Frederickson, who was appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) in 2018. Frederickson said the city’s policy on mass gatherings "abridges the rights of the citizens of Racine, and anyone visiting, to peaceably assemble, consult for the common good, or to petition the government," according to the newspaper.

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Frederickson had earlier blocked an order by public health administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox, leading the City Council to pass an ordinance authorizing her to adjust her order at her discretion, the Journal Sentinel reported. His decision Wednesday did not explicitly outline what powers he believes Bowersox legally has.

Racine Mayor Cory Mason (D) called Frederickson a “right-wing activist judge” in a statement.

"Twenty-five city residents have died from this virus [and] I hope no one else will die because of Judge Fredrickson’s judicial activism," Mason said.

Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court, meanwhile, earlier this month voted 4-3 to throw out Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) statewide stay-at-home order after Republican lawmakers sued, forcing Evers to develop an alternate plan with the legislature. Evers said following the decision that he would not seek to develop such a plan and would instead leave it to local officials.

“The Republicans have made it very clear that they don't believe a statewide approach is the right way to go at this point in time, and they also don't believe any restrictions are advisable at this time,” Evers told reporters in May.

Wisconsin has more than 32,000 total cases of the virus and about 800 deaths from it as of Wednesday.